Exiled Tibetans and supporters at the main square, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala during the candle light vigil in solidarity with Lobsang Kalsang and Damchoe, August 29, 2012. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, August 29: Hundreds of Tibetans and supporters in the exile Tibetan headquarters of Dharamshala yesterday evening carried out a candle light vigil in honour of the two young Tibetans who set themselves on fire Monday morning in eastern Tibet.
Lobsang Kalsang, 18, a monk at the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba and Dhamchoe, 17, a former monk of Kirti Monastery self-immolated near the eastern gate of their besieged Monastery in an apparent protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
According to eyewitnesses, the two engulfed in flames, walked around 20 steps before falling down on the ground. They raised slogans against the Chinese government’s policies of annihilating the Tibetan race.
Lobsang Kalsang and Dhamchoe succumbed to their severe burn injuries later in the day at a Chinese hospital in Barkham.
Damchoe was the younger brother of Tenzin Choedron, a nun at the Mamae nunnery, the largest nunnery in the Ngaba region, who passed away in her self-immolation protest earlier this year on February 11.
With candles, Tibetan national flags, and pictures of Tibetan self-immolators, the marchers walked down from the Mcloed Ganj Square to the Martyr’s Pillar near the Tsug-la Khang, the main temple, saying prayers for those who have sacrificed their lives Tibet.
Thupten Jigme, the recently elected president of the Dharamshala chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress blamed China’s “brutal suppression” for the growing numbers of self-immolations.
“China must immediately withdraw its police and military from Tibet which has turned our country into a militarized zone. It is this brutal suppression of Tibetans by Chinese occupation forces that is driving Tibetans to take their own lives this way,” Thupten said.
Kalsang Youdon, president of the regional women’s association said Tibetans are proud of the “heroic non-violent acts” of Tibetans inside Tibet.
“Most of the 51 self-immolators have demanded freedom of Tibet and called on the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. We are sad that our martyrs died, but we are also proud that we have such heroes who give their lives in the most exemplary heroic nonviolent act” said Youdon.
Tibet’s elected leader, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay recently expressed disappointment at the global response to the ongoing crisis inside Tibet.
Speaking to reporters, Dr Sangay said the wave of fiery protests inside Tibet were a reflection of Chinese government policies.
“The fact that these Tibetans are going to such lengths of protest means the [promised Chinese] ‘socialist paradise’ never touched the land of Tibet – the welfare and education policies they always write on paper were never realised,” the de facto Tibetan prime minister said.